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The Path Forward: Stan Van Gundy in Detroit

What does it mean? Is Monroe available?


In the past three weeks I have took a hard look at the options available to Dell Demps this summer. First, I took a look at the free agent market. The outlook on unrestricted free agents is pretty bleak this July.  Then I went back and studied the history of Dell's tenure in New Orleans. A clear pattern of targeting secondary stars of franchises experiencing dramatic turnover in the front office is evident. Finally I analyzed which players and franchises fit the mold of Dell's previous moves. Milwaukee and Detroit stuck out dramatically, not just for the amount of predicted turnover, but the players who may be available and how they could fit here in New Orleans.

Detroit officially announced the hiring of Stan Van Gundy this morning. He will not only be the coach of the Pistons, but also the President of Basketball Operations. A duel-hat position held only by himself and Doc Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers. Naturally the good writers over at Detroit Bad Boys are pumping out content at a furious pace. Mike Payne wrote about what the arrival of Van Gundy could mean for the offense, with some focus on the impending free agency of New Orleans native Greg Monroe.

Long story short, Van Gundy has coached both with a spread out attack (famously in Orlando with Rashard Lewis or Ryan Anderson logging minutes at power forward) and with a more traditional lineup (in Miami with Udonis Haslem and Shaq in the front court). Saying definitively how Van Gundy will approach building a contender in Detroit is difficult to do until he goes through the draft and his first free agency. If the Pistons keep their selection (it is top 8 protected, Detroit is currently slotted 8th) who Van Gundy selects will be the first real data point. The second will be what they decide to do with Greg Monroe.

Twitter Contradictions

Unsurprisingly, the always infamous "sources" are out in force with this announcement. Of course, these sources sometimes disagree dramatically. For example -

Which version is correct? We have no idea. For our purposes as Pelican fans the possibility that Monroe may be available is of great importance. Sean Deveney's "sources" are described as "multiple league executives", and those executives seem to believe that New Orleans will be on Monroe's list. Monroe has already professed his love for New Orleans.

Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons basketball star and a Helen Cox High School graduate, was honoree at a free youth sports program, part of NBA All-Star Week and sponsored by Oakdale Playground in Gretna on Feb. 13.

Monroe feels at home at Oakdale, the root of his career, the place where he started playing T-ball at age 5, moving on to other sports, including baseball, football and basketball as the years passed. By age 11, he was only playing basketball.

He was drafted by the Pistons in the 2010 NBA Draft with the seventh overall pick.

"I love and miss New Orleans. Much better weather here than in Detroit. Man, it's real cold there," the NBA pro said.

He is the son of Gretna resident Norma Monroe. The 6-foot-11-inch athlete talked about how important it is that there is continuity at Oakdale. He is pleased that the same coaches are at Oakdale as when he was there, and how good that is for the youth training there today.

The draw of home for people is different. The NBA is rife with people expecting Kevin Love to "return home" to Los Angeles for instance. It is absolutely possible that all of these "sources" expecting Monroe to consider New Orleans are simply spit balling. Just yesterday it was rumored that Van Gundy was discussing terms with Golden State, today he is the president and head coach in Detroit.

Sean Deveney doubled down on his report later this afternoon, nearly a shot at the RealGM report which contradicted his early report.

Detroit Options

Again, let me reiterate, none of this matters if Monroe does not want to come here OR Van Gundy wants to keep him around. As I linked above, I've discussed sign-and-trade scenarios ad nauseam over the past couple months. Monroe and Josh Smith for Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson works, but sounds horrendous if Smith continues to chuck three pointers. Monroe and Jonas Jerebko for Gordon and Anderson also works, but ties up a great deal of cap room for Detroit with two onerous contracts (Gordon and Smith) to deal with at once.

Instead, let me build a scenario where New Orleans bites the proverbial cap bullet. If the Pelicans sent out Ryan Anderson and Melvin Ely (whose cap number is used, Detroit would immediately waive him) they could receive back up to $14,939,990 back ($8,491,500 + $1,448,490 + $5,000,000) in incoming salary. Including Luke Babbitt could increase that number, but I believe that $14.9M will be close to the maximum (Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys estimated the max at $15.5M here). Doing this would eliminate the possibility of utilizing cap space, limiting future moves from Dell Demps to the Mid-Level Exception and the Bi-Annual Exception. Rather than hypothesize what Demps would do with these options, I have left them blank.

Pos Age 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Greg Monroe C 24 $14,939,990 $15,612,289 $16,284,588
Eric Gordon SG 26 $14,898,938 $15,514,031
Jrue Holiday PG 24 $10,404,495 $11,095,507 $11,786,518
Tyreke Evans SG 25 $11,265,416 $10,734,586 $10,203,755
Anthony Davis PF/C 21 $5,607,240 $7,070,730
Mid Level Exception $5,305,000
Austin Rivers PG 22 $2,439,840 $3,110,796
Bi-Annual Exception $2,077,000
Darius Miller SF 24 $1,115,243
Alexis Ajinca C 26 $981,084
Luke Babbitt SF/PF 25 $948,163
Jeff Withey PF/C 24 $816,482
Total $70,798,891 $63,137,939 $38,274,861


As you can see the Pelicans have a possibility to offer a wide range of sign-and-trade options for Greg Monroe. The most recent I listed above come at a heavy cost of short term flexibility. Again, I cannot reiterate this enough, if Van Gundy does want to keep Monroe around, does not want to roll the dice with Ryan Anderson at PF, or gets a better offer all of this is for not. I am not writing that obviously Van Gundy wants to rebuild what he had in Orlando with Drummond as the focal point or that Ryan Anderson is his target because of Anderson's history with Van Gundy there.

If Monroe does come to New Orleans it would solve the problem of who plays center. While the team would no longer employ a "stretch-4" like Ryan Anderson, it would still have Anthony Davis at power forward.  Davis stretches and contorts a defense plenty without a three point shot as it is, and his mid range jumper continues to improve. Davis at power forward opened up the floor plenty for Tyreke Evans to operate, as Tyreke's performance in March readily attests.

The team would continue to have an enormous hole in terms of who plays small forward, and increased need to find a method to create cap space by jettisoning Eric Gordon's contract. I would advocate that fixing who plays center is a greater need than who plays small forward when considering the philosophy of head coach Monty Williams. That is not a dig at Monty, just a reflection of the reality that this franchise does not view Anthony Davis as a center now or going forward.

There are worse options than signing a big man to a big contract who averages about 15 points and 9 rebounds a game over the last three years. Especially when that big man has missed three games in the past four seasons. If Van Gundy does not want to pay Monroe nearly $15 Million a season I can see why Ryan Anderson at nearly half that cost would be appealing. First we must hope Van Gundy sees it that way. Second, Monroe's love for New Orleans must win out. Finally, Dell Demps and Monty Williams need to believe Monroe is a better answer than Ryan Anderson as well.

Do you want to see a Davis-Monroe front court? Let's discuss it in the comments.